Wills and Probate Laws in California
Probate is a legal process that includes the following stages:
- A court determines the validity of the will of a deceased person.
- The property of a deceased person is identified, inventoried, and appraised.
- Outstanding debt and taxes are paid.
- The property that remains is distributed in the way outlined in the will.
Typically, if there is a will, it names an executor who serves as a personal representative. The executor is in charge of estate management and following probate procedure. However, until the executor is formally appointed by the court, they have no authority to act as personal representative.
The probate court appoints an individual known as an administrator to act as personal representative if certain conditions exist, including:
- There is no will.
- No executor is named in the will.
- The person named as executor in the will is unable to or chooses not to fulfill their duties as executor.
In California, probate hearings are held in the Probate Department of the Superior Court in the county in which the deceased person was living when they died.
Probate litigation in Walnut Creek and Oakland
It is possible for somebody to file an objection to a will. When this happens, a process known as a will contest begins. In order for somebody to initiate Walnut Creek contested probate, they must hold a stake in the outcome of the will. Although loosely defined, examples of such individuals are:
- A spouse or child who was not included in the will
- A child who receives a less equitable share of the estate than a sibling
- An heir or beneficiary who benefited more from an earlier will
If you decide to initiate a Walnut Creek probate contest, it is recommended that you hire an Oakland or Walnut Creek probate lawyer.
In order to prove a will is invalid through probate litigation, certain grounds must be met, including:
- The will does not adhere to state law.
- The will was forged.
- The decedent was of an unfit mental state when the will was executed.
Contact us to learn more about probate law in California
Vaught & Boutris LLP provides probate services to clients throughout northern California. During this sensitive time we can help you understand probate laws. A will and probate litigation lawyer from our law firm can also help you with a contested will. To discuss your case, contact us online or call 510-430-1518 today.